Wednesday, February 29, 2012

To see photos of the Leap Day Storm in Massachusetts, please click on the link below:

Pics of Leap Day Storm

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Loose Ends

Today was a complete day of leisure for me. After a good night's sleep, I decided to clear up the small loose ends that really make me feel accomplished. I first took care of my finances because my desk is much neater afterwards, then I celebrated Mass for the First Sunday in Lent, and had a nutritious breakfast afterwards. If the day had stopped there, I would have felt good.

After a light two-hour nap, I tidied up the lawn. Yesterday, I pulled up some rosa ragosas that spread far beyond where we wanted them to grow. I collected some firewood that I stacked in the lawn to get it ready for the next retreat that begins on Monday. Today, I started taking care of the flower beds near the ocean, especially Fiacre's garden. I raked the beds and pulled up many old weeds, especially in the lily garden behind Fiacre's. I then pulled up large branches of weeds and cut down some timber that was obtrusive. Removing those wayward branches makes an immediate effect on the environment. The lawn and garden looks well maintained and it is ready for spring planting.

I collected some piles of kindling that I cut down in November. I felt like a slacker all winter long. I was hoping they would be covered over by the snow but we had none this year. Therefore, I had a constant reminder of my slovenliness. I feel accomplished because I finally moved them to the kindling pile for retreatants to use.

I did some additional raking and cutting down of tree limbs that have gone unchecked. I hope to improve the sight lines on the property and to allow air to pass through the property to dry out the wet areas and to reduce the mosquito population.

Daffodils are breaking through the surfaces. It looks as it a couple of daffodils will bloom within a week. The others will come in two weeks. They will be here before Easter. This is a weird winter. The month is almost over and we are expecting 50 degree weather again this week. I'll get more lawn work done.

After I bathe, I'll send out a new note cards. Then I'll look at my schedule a plan a retreat, vacation times, and then settle on some dates of other activities. All seems good.

The Academy Awards are tonight. I'll pop in to watch some of it, but I'm content taking care of business and settling down with an enjoyable book.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Relaxing Day

An eight-day retreat just ended and it is quiet in the retreat house. We can tell the retreatants enjoyed the retreat space a great deal. As it was not at full capacity, retreatants were able to find their own space without interruption.

Now with the retreat over, I have been able to do some tidying up work in the yard. I've made several piles of kindling wood for the fireplace and I've collected much of the fragments of wood that has fallen onto the lawn. The place is at the point of looking nice for the time when early spring comes. We've had great weather in February, so much so that the daffodils are popping up through the ground. I even saw crocuses this week. Winter is not over and it would be nice to have some snow cover, and we know that nature takes care of itself.

This week, two prominent Jesuits were buried. Fr. Stanley Marrow, S.J. and Fr. Edward O'Flaherty, S.J. were amazing men in their own ways. Fr. Marrow taught scripture, mostly Johannine studies, and Fr. O'Flaherty was a provincial who later worked twenty years for the Boston archdiocese. We will miss them both dearly.

Today, I went to visit a Jesuit friend who just moved back into province. It was good to hear how he is doing. He has an important new job in front of him. I wish him lots of luck in his endeavors.

This afternoon, I cleared out some old wood from the shed that will be converted into an outdoor chapel this spring. The wood was well preserved and it took great effort to move it from the shed to the side of the service road. I trekked through an area that I know is filled with poison ivy. I just hope that it is still cold enough to reduce the effect of the gluey posion that sticks to the branches. I moved about 50 beams of wood. Today, I collected them and cleared them out from the property. I'm quite tired from it all.

Since everyone has left the retreat house, I've set a bountiful fire in the fireplace and will enjoy sipping a cup of tea and catching up on some light reading. I will be enjoying the evening. I am savoring the many good comments from retreatants and emails from people who are searching for God in their lives - especially in their struggles and strife. It is good to know we are not alone.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sorry Day event at Mt Druitt

Holy Family Parish Mt Druitt has commemorated the fourth anniversary of the apology this week, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda making a call for constitutional change.

The commemorative event, titled One Mob Under the Southern Cross, included a ceremony of remembrance and a community debate. It was hosted by the Mt Druitt Regional Reconciliation Group, and was facilitated by Fr Pat Mullins SJ.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda was the keynote speaker at the event, which came four years after the 13 February 2008 apology from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population for injustices committed against them in the past.

He said that the country had failed to follow through on the apology.

‘The nation was ready for a great change, we set the scene, but we missed it’, said Mr Gooda.

He added, however, that Indigenous people and other Australians advocating for change should not lose hope, since recommendations for constitutional change would give them another opportunity to push for reform. Community forums have shown that 80 percent of Australians approve of the removal from the constitution of provisions which allow for racist lawmaking.

‘We’re now in the 21st century and those [provisions in two sections of the constitution] don’t reflect what Australians want’, he said. “I’m positive, I’m optimistic, that things are going to change.’

Mr Gooda said that although he expected some opposition to the recommendations, he was certain that constitutional change would benefit not only Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, but all the people of Australia.

‘This is when the people speak. It’s going to be up to people like us to go and argue for this, and so we have to arm you with the information.’

Mr Gooda added that a referendum on constitutional change would take the spirit of Sorry Day a step further, finally settling the issue of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status in Australia.

‘Think about how we felt on Sorry Day, and think about how we’ll feel when we wake up on a Sunday morning maybe a year from now knowing we’ve voted yes. It’s not an opportunity that every generation gets.’

By Catherine Marshall

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Questions for the General: Spirituality

Kerry Holland is an artist and a giver of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. She is at present co-chair of Companions in the Ministry of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, a national organisation set up to encourage conversation between and ongoing development of those whose ministry is giving the Ignatian retreats.

Kerry’s questions: Fr General, would you share with us something of your early experience of God that on reflection has caused transformation in your life. If you were to paint a picture of the feelings associated with that experience what colour or colours would you choose?

Well, we are looking at early experiences. I would say of myself that I could be painted as a quiet Spaniard. There is a book, The Quiet American. I could be the quiet Spaniard.

I was shy and slow as a child, and so I guess - and think I recall in my life God comes slowly and smoothly into my life, so I cannot boast of any mystical experiences that I could surprise you with.

I feel that if I have grown in my life, if I have grown at all, it's through crisis. That has brought to me a triple conviction. First, I have a very positive view of crisis, so when a young Jesuit speaks about a crisis I thank God, because that's a great opportunity to grow. A crisis puts us in an emergency situation so we can know ourselves better, and so we know better the word of God. So I have a very positive view of crisis.

Second, the crisis forces us to go deeper into our lives and to ask the tough questions, because the surface questions are not good any more. Either you go deeper or you lose your horizon.

Because of that my way, the third conviction, is not a flashy way. It is a quiet, smooth and simple way. The remedies that we develop out of these crisis experiences are worth taking time sharing within the Society of Jesus reasonably in depth. Because God is at work and we have to search quietly and deeply to find God, and to use creativity, because the world is changing and yet our mission continues to challenge us to find the language, the content, the responses that are going to help people, and particularly life in the spirit, because in the spirit we have the fire, the inspiration, the force to keep us going quietly or in a flashy way.

Colour? Personally I like red, yellow and green, with blue also. But when we come to the experience, how would I colour the experience, maybe I would colour it orange or lavender. In Spain violet is not a very positive colour, but in Japan I have learned that lavender and violet are very good colours, colours for feasts, for celebrations, and they are more subdued than red and yellow.

Fr General fielded questions from six people at his address on 25 January. In this edition of Province Express, we feature the first three questions. The other three questions will be featured in the next edition.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Photo: Plum Island, Newbury

To see photos of Plum Island in Newbury, Massachusetts, please click on the link below:

Pics of Plum Island

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentine's Day

Last week, I visited a friend after I made an eye-exam. She is a great maker of greeting cards. She has all the supplies that one could need. Craft stores would envy her supplies.

She invited me to make Valentine's Day cards. I originally thought to myself, "To whom would I send a card?" but it dawned on me that the Valentine's Day holiday, just like every other holiday, has morphed into something new. It is no longer a romantic holiday, but one that celebrates love - romantic, appreciative, filial, or otherwise. Love is to be shared freely. Our whole lives are about love so why would I withhold it?

I made several and my eye-doctors liked what I made so they took one. My friend later gave them a couple more cards to send out. My eye-doctors, General Optical, are the neatest, kindest people you can imagine.

Valentine's Day is freer than other holidays. When it is Christmas or Mother's or Father's Day, one is obliged to send a card  - even if the relationship is ambiguous. Not so with Valentine's Day. You send a card to someone for whom you choose to do so. You are authenticating a friendship based upon your free-will.

In the end, I decided to send the Valentine's Day cards to my sisters and sisters-in-law. I hope they like them.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Photo: Turkeys and Donkeys

To see photos of turkeys and donkeys that I saw in Paxton, Massachusetts, please click on the link below:

Pics of Turkeys

St. Cecelia's Parish

I had Mass at St. Cecelia's parish in Boston today. I long wanted to worship there as many retreatants speak of this parish fondly. I was not disappointed. The 11:15 Mass was packed.

The building is very pleasant. The colors are a mix of vibrant earth tones that create a solemn reverence and a jubilant spirit. The parish building itself has a spacious parish lobby and quiet areas where conversations can be easily had. Many classrooms are finely appointed and they are rented out to the adjacent Berkeley School of Music during the weekdays. It is a well-crafted facility. It feels fresh and vigorous.

Today, the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston asked to address parishioners via a pre-recorded message instead of a homily. I did not get to hear the famed Fr. Unni preach, but I liked the message I heard from Cardinal O'Malley. He was speaking about the "Death with Dignity" referendum that is to be brought to a public vote by the Commonwealth's citizens this November. The tone of the Cardinal's message was respectful. I like that he urged people to pray and to visit those who are sick and in hospitals.

After Mass, I had brunch with two friends, who are fellow pilgrims on the October 2011 trip to Spain. It was good to be with them again.

Today is also the anniversary of one of my best friends in high school, David Seaver. He died during an unfortunate automobile accident in 1979 when the driver hit a telephone pole. Ironically, we nicknamed David "Abeless" because he was not able yet to grow a beard like the rest of us could, but the joke was on us because he died on Abraham Lincoln's birthday. May he rest in peace.

Days following the Long Retreat

The Thirty-Day retreat ended on Tuesday and by noon every retreatant had departed Gloucester for their homes. The place quieted down to a hush. As afternoon crept forward, I felt a sleep rush come upon me so I settled down for a half-hour nap. I gave much of myself to the retreat, I now had to give some replenishment time back to me. We do miss the retreatants as they leave, but we are happy that they go and bring forth the message of salvation they heard from Christ.

On Wednesday, as I needed a change of scenery, I visited Maine. I stopped by Cheverus High School where I was sent on mission for 6.5 years. I saw some teachers and friends and visited the Jesuit community. Every visit was pleasant and increased in me a desire to spend more time with them.

On Thursday, I visited my former boss at Eastern Bank. After 25 years and a day, he retired to become the founding dean of the new Business School. I am proud of him. His daughters are in college and are successfully launched into their own lives. He now wants to give back to first generation college students who are like he and I were. It is a nice tribute of service to the students.

After visiting my friend, I toured my own alma mater, and then went to see my original mater, my mother and my siblings. It was a pleasant visit.

On Friday, since the temperatures were so warm, I spent the day doing some gardening. Well, it is more like cutting down broken branches into kindling. I enjoyed the day and I felt productive even though the lawn looks no different than before.

That night, I had dinner with two friends who are Jewish so they could introduce me to their two friends who are Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. We had a lovely cheese pie and grand conversations. The evening just seemed sacred to me.

Yesterday, I had lunch in Gloucester with two Boston friends. One of them had a birthday on Thursday. We were also gathering because her brother, an ex-priest, very recently died and was buried. She was consoled by the 14 con-celebrating priests and the many friends who came to share their stories. I enjoyed the easiness of the lunch and the good spirit of these two women.

A visit to my Alma Mater

I took a self-guided tour of the Worcester State University (WSU) campus on Thursday. I am impressed with what I saw. I had just come from visiting a friend who is the new dean of the Business School at Anna Maria College. He talked about his dreams for his alma mater. It propelled me to make a visit to my alma mater too. While Anna Maria is, to their standards bustling with 1200 students, WSU seems to be thriving with energy.

I walked the Administration Building's floors and I was impressed with the freshness of the place. One can tell the school cares for its buildings. When I was a student under Presidents Orze and Vairo, the buildings were cared for well, but there is a vigor to the place now that is inspiring. Though it is functional, it had the feel of a first-class museum. The beautiful auditorium was in use by students who were putting up a stage set for a play. The old art room on the Fourth Floor has been nicely renovation into Continuing Education offices. Every space has been spruced up with dignity.

The Sullivan Building is quite attractive as well. Even though it was 4:00 p.m., probably a low-part of activity for the day, student activities were bustling. Some students were sitting inside classroom doing their assignments, others were in academic counseling centers, a jazz ensemble was practicing in the adjacent auditorium. It had a good feel to it. I could tell that students are dedicated to their education. The school environment seems conducive to promoting the whole development of the person.

As a student, I worked full-time to pay for my apartment and transportation. I was not able to enjoy the school as a place where the whole person was developed. My two degrees were as a commuting student. On certain weekday afternoons, the parking lot would empty out as students returned home. I like the shift that I see today. In what could be a down-time for student activity, students were still hanging around campus. Even the student center lounge was filled with students enjoying each other's company.

When I return, I'll tour the Ghosh Computer Center and the Learning Resource Center. I like the placement of the new parking garage and the additional dormitories. I've read that the Commonwealth has granted money for a new Athletic Center (bravo) and a new dormitory.

I liked it when President Vairo began to beautify the campus. I have always thought that it would be advantageous to have a gathering space green space, a water fountain, or something striking that would form the connecting heart of the campus. A common place to gather would be vital for the life of the school.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Seraphim Singers: La Variete Francaise

Click to Enlarge

La Variété Française French choral music from the twentieth century has an unmistakably distinctive character, whether it be quiet sensuality or majestic grandeur. Appropriately, The Seraphim Singers marks its fifteenth anniversary with an all-French program that showcases the ensemble in one of its earliest-defined specialties.
Dupré Four Motets for Choir and Two Organs
Gigout Grand Choeur Dialogue
Langlais Mass in Ancient Style
Messiaen O Sacrum Convivium
Vierne Messe Solennelle for Choir and Two Organs

Organists Heinrich Christensen and Glenn Goda join The Seraphim Singers for this performance. To accommodate the Gigout, Vierne, and Dupré works—all of which are scored for two organs—Marshall & Ogletree of Needham, Mass. will create a digital “clone” of The Mission Church’s magnificent Hutchings pipe organ, to be played from a second console near the front altar. Some organ enthusiasts question whether digital organs can sound as authentic as their pipe counterparts. This concert will give listeners an opportunity to experience two organs—one pipe and one electronic—with otherwise identical musical capabilities in the same acoustic, putting the digital instrument to the ultimate aural test.
Jennifer Lester, Conductor
with Heinrich Christensen and Glenn Goda, Organists


3:00 P.M.
Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mission Church
1545 Tremont Street, Mission Hill

Located within walking distance of the Green Line, Orange Line, and major bus routes.

Tickets: $20 Adults / $15 Students & Seniors, available at the door using cash, check, or credit card.

Visit for additional details.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

What a month!

It is over. The 30-day retreat that began on January 5th has come to a close. The retreatants will soon begin speaking again. We'll first have Mass at 11:15 and then they will speak after Mass. I can tell some of them are fretting it because they want to hold onto the meaningful conversations they had each day.

They cannot believe how quickly the time passed. At first it sounded like a long time; now, they would rather have a 40-day retreat instead. It is heartening to hear words like that.

I enjoy the silence. On my days of repose, I went to a Cistercian monastery of Trappists of the Strict Observance and yesterday, I went to Crane's Beach in Ipswich for some silence. The atmosphere around the retreat house was filled with some activity and the silence, though present, was lessening. Upon my walk, I ran into three women who suggested that I not go into the forest because nothing was there - not every a bird's chirp. I knew exactly where I needed to go. I sat down, listened to the swirling wind, and enjoyed the warmth of the day.

Unfortunately, I saw no snowy owls. I think it is too warm for them.

I'll take a week's break, then I'll be back on another retreat. We are getting reading for the summer 30-day retreat and we are adding a new 30-day retreat for September. Spread the word - silently.

And, of course, I'm rooting for the New England Patriots today as they enter their 5th Superbowl in 10 years!